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katehaney

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06:00 am: Real Boys
I finally finished reading William Pollack's Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood. What a slog! I was genuinely surprised that it was fewer than 400 pages; it felt like 600 (some parenting books are written in large type; this book may well be 600 pages in "for g-d's sake, new parents are perpetually exhausted, give 'em a break" type).

Good stuff, important stuff, boring stuff. It doesn't help that Pollack will never use 1 word when 100 will do.

I hope he re-writes this book, or does a series of articles for a parenting magazine or something, because it is good, important stuff, and it doesn't have to be this boring. (Or maybe it does: the bibliography is 12 pages. There's a definite academic slant to it.)

Core theme: Myths about boyhood persist in U.S. culture, and it's hard - but critical - to combat those myths. Myths like boys will be boys and boys are toxic and boys shouldn't express the full range of emotion (it wouldn't be manly) and boys should be raised, taught, and treated like girls, and if that doesn't work, the boys are broken, not the methods of raising, teaching, and treating them.

Although I agree with his central theme and am constantly working on exactly this stuff with Teddy, Pollack seems to stretch his point on occasion (some men report difficulty with X, therefore my theory Y is TOTALLY TRUE! Really? 'Cause I'm not seeing the connection, despite the research on a totally different subject that you've just cited.).

He expressed one thing in a way that was new to me: action is not the same as violence. It's so easy to slip into using words as synonyms that really are not. My personal distaste for rough and tumble play* doesn't make it violence. It is active, physical play.

I'm gonna remember that one.

In any case, Real Boys has important stuff. As is often the case, I think it's addressed more succinctly in Ask Moxie.


* It's not the play I object to, per se: it's the elbows to the jaw and the heads to the furniture that I don't like.

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